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Q: How serious is the flu?

Posted November 20, 2013 in Advice Column, Grimes

A: January and February are considered peak months for influenza outbreaks. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. The flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals older than 6 months and younger than 65. Those most at risk for a severe flu illness are those less than 2 years of age, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. The flu is spread by respiratory droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and infect others.

Symptoms of the flu include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (very tired).

What to do if you think you have the flu? Supportive therapy including increasing rest and fluid intake and using OTC Tylenol or ibuprofen for fever control. Antiviral drugs can also be used to treat flu illness. They can make people feel better and get better sooner. Antiviral medications may also prevent serious flu complications. These drugs are not antibiotics, but they do need to be prescribed by a medical provider. They work best when started during the first two days of illness. Antibiotic therapy does not treat the flu. If you develop symptoms of the flu it’s best to see your medical provider.

Information provided by Dr. Seth R. Quam, D.O., UnityPoint Grimes, 101 S.E. Destination Drive, 986-4524.

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